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Home Family Parenting Advice The Competent Parent: Where are the baby sitters?

The Competent Parent: Where are the baby sitters?

Headshot of Debbie Wood, Annapolis, Maryland, child development specialist.Welcome to our weekly online series on parenting advice with Annapolis, Maryland, expert Dr. Deborah Wood.

Where are the Baby Sitters?

Dear Dr. Debbie,

My wife and I seem to be the main babysitters for our son and his wife. We stay with them for about a week at a time, usually every other month. Our grandson is almost 4 years old and attends a childcare center where his mother works. When we’re visiting we like to take him out, which means he might skip a few days at the childcare center. We took him to an Orioles baseball game last night. He got to run around the bases afterward and was given a broken bat by one of the players to take home.

Just wondering why it seems parents these days don’t hire neighborhood teenagers like we did.

Grandpa on Duty


Dear Grandpa,

Sounds like you’re having a wonderful opportunity to enjoy your grandson on a regular basis! Yes, it’s true, the teen-age babysitter is much less utilized than in past generations. Part of the reason is the enticement of higher paying jobs for high schoolers and college students – mostly at retail stores and restaurants. Another part is that neighbors aren’t as neighborly – we move more frequently and spend more of our time at home indoors – so your son and his wife might not know whom to ask in their neighborhood.

And since both parents are both working out of the house, they are probably happy to spend more leisure time in it. When one parent stays home all week, he or she is usually more anxious to get out of the house (and away from childcare duties) to go on a date with his or her spouse. I’m guessing that may have been true for you and your wife?

Your family has the luxury of ready and able grandparents. You are doing so much more than “babysitting.” As you enjoy time with your grandson, you are helping him discover the wide world as he discovers his own talents and interests. You are forging a strong relationship, sharing family stories, passing on the values that perhaps your grandparents shared with you. Once “real” school begins for your grandson his time for excursions will be limited to weekends and school breaks. If he gets busy with sports or another regularly scheduled activity, it may get harder and harder to find the time to be together.

So for now, enjoy!

Dr. Debbie

Don’t miss last week’s post on screen time limits for tots.

Dr. Deborah Wood is a child development specialist in Annapolis. She holds a doctorate in Human Development from the University of Maryland at College Park and is founding director of the Chesapeake Children’s Museum. Long time fans and new readers can find many of her “Understanding Children” columns archived on the Chesapeake Family Magazine website. You can find her online at drdebbiewood.com

What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments or submit a question to Dr. Debbie at editor@chesapeakefamily.com.

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